How to find time to write as a parent?
As the mother of two young girls, I think it’s important I set a positive example for them. I try not to turn down opportunities to do something fun or interesting with them to write. That’s not a hard and fast rule because if I’m on a deadline, I’ve made a promise to someone else to get my work complete. I need to be an example of honoring those too.
Saying that, there are times when I request ‘mommy time’ from my girls, which demonstrates my boundaries, the need to look after my own mental health, and it gives them time to play with each other with less refereeing from me (they’re 4 and 9).
Even still, I find my best, most focused writing happens between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM. I’ve always been a night owl, so it’s a better fit for me than getting up at 5 AM (plus, my oldest has some sort of built-in Mommy’s awake radar first thing in the morning). It does mean I spend the next day tired if I’ve gotten into a groove and hit my 2 AM threshold. Caffeine was invented for those days, right?
Finding the time is always a juggling act or a balancing act. I’ve been told the nights are long, but the years are short. I’m embracing everything I can while staying sane.
What inspired you to write this book? What did you enjoy most about writing this book? How did you come up with the title of the first novel?
This book series actually came about because one of my writing besties is in love with ‘bad boys,’ and I wanted to write something that would appeal to her. Are Finn and Lorcan typical bad boys? In some ways, yes. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what those ways are. Though, I will say my writing bestie has labelled Finn the perfect book boyfriend.
When I was writing the first book in the series, Retribution, I loved the blend of romance and suspense. For me, trying to figure out ways to surprise and delight my readers while building a romantic relationship between an undercover FBI agent and a mafia boss was a lot of fun. I wanted their connection, despite their obvious moral differences, to be believable. My reviews have been really positive, so I think I succeeded there.
For the second book in the series, Resurrection, I got to play with characters who were more secondary in the first book. Their relationship is a second chance romance, and it really digs into desire and sacrifice. The third book, which is the conclusion of this relationship, is slated for release in December 2020.
For the series, Retribution was the first name I came up with. Many of the characters are looking for revenge in one form or another throughout the novel, so it felt fitting. I wanted to carry through the R names for the series, and Resurrection and Redemption encompassed the arcs I had planned for Finn and Carys.
Where did you come up with the names in the story? Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I’ve always really liked the name Finn, so his was easy. Since I only have girls, I never got a chance to use any of my favorite boy names in ‘real’ life, so they get dropped into fictional pieces.
Lorcan is a traditional Irish name, and I wanted to use one that was a bit different from ones you typically see.
Kimi/Kim/Kimmy came about because I wanted a name that could be interpreted or used in various context to through her off and/or differentiate between the versions of herself she presents to the world.
Carys came from my youngest daughter’s daycare. One of her best friends in daycare was named Carys, and I heard about her frequently.
These four main characters came to me at roughly the same time as I was plotting the book out in my head. However, Carys became a much bigger character than I anticipated when I started writing the first book.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
The amount of research I do before I write depends on the story I’m trying to tell. For this series, I needed to know at least enough about the mafia and FBI undercover agents to make the story feel real. I read McMafia, which is a book about the mafia. I also devoured newspaper articles and think pieces about the inner workings of modern mafia organizations.
For the undercover FBI agent piece, I lucked into a couple of interviews with retired undercover FBI agents, and a lot of the things they discussed became complications for Kimi. One of the big things these real life people talked about was the importance of a connection outside the job—friends, family, etc. For the undercover work to stay a job, the agents needed those ‘real’ relationships. So, in Retribution, I strip Kimi of much of her family and many of her friends. When you’re adrift, it becomes much easier to cling onto something (or someone) you shouldn’t.
Otherwise, I often research languages, locations, driving distances, flying times, time zones, and other miscellaneous things that might drag the reader out the story if those details don’t make sense.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? Do you believe in writer’s block?
Most of my novels are written in 3-5 months. How long it takes depends on interruptions, what other commitments I’ve agreed to, whether the story is flowing well, and so forth. I would say I usually average about 4 months to write a book.
As I mentioned above, when a story is flowing well, it’s a dream. I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block the same way other people do. For me, if I’m struggling it’s often one of three things—my brain hasn’t yet worked out how to get where I need to go; I’ve lost interest in the story myself; I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and need to re-evaluate. The majority of the time it’s the first thing, particularly when I’m writing romantic suspense. I often know the ending or where I’d like to have the characters end up but getting them there in a way that’s unexpected or interesting is the hard part.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I was an avid writer throughout elementary school and high school. I won a few writing contests in high school, and I almost went to university for creative writing. But once I got to university (for Journalism and later English), I only wrote occasionally and never much of anything interesting.
I regret putting down my figurative pen. For me, writing is very cathartic, and I’m able to express a lot of things I’ve witnessed and felt in snippets of my writing. Most of the time I’m a very driven person, so when I look back, I don’t really understand why I stopped writing for so long. One thing I can say for sure—I’m glad I came back to it.
What can we expect from you in the future?
This series has a third book called Redemption which is out in December 2020. We’re in the process of editing it.
If you sign up for my newsletter at wendymillion.com, you get a free novella which has a British male lead and a lighter tone.
If you have the Radish Fiction app, I have an exclusive story on there called Saving Us. It’s an NA, interracial romance.
I also have a story in Wattpad’s Paid Stories program called When Stars Fall. Wyatt and Ellie are fan favorites, and their second chance romance is a hit with readers.
Other than those, I’m in the middle of a rom-com project about an exclusive dating service that matches a woman with her ex-boyfriend. I’m also playing around with a friends-to-enemies-to-friends-to-lovers royal romance.
At some point I’ll probably circle back to romantic suspense because I really enjoy puzzling out the twists and turns of those stories.
I’m never short on ideas!